We've suggested turning off the TV while you eat, and it's not bad advice. But, come on, admit it – sometimes you leave it on. It's OK, we do too. And we're not embarrassed to say it. Here's why ...
This is not an argument to start watching TV while you eat, or at all, if you don't already enjoy it. Some people don't like it and might not even own a TV, and that's just fine. I, however, am an unabashed fan of television. I really just can't get enough of media in all forms, and TV just happens to be one of them. But for some reason, I think it gets an unfair amount of blame for the rotting of brains and whatnot. Is there such thing as too much TV? Sure. Like everything else, it's best not to overdo it. But does it inherently spoil a meal? I don't think so.
Watching TV while you eat doesn't have to mean staring at the tube like a zombie and mindlessly shoveling food into your mouth. In fact, if there's something on the DVR that I know I'll find particularly engrossing, I prefer to save that until after dinner so I can give it my full attention. But there's plenty of programming that allows for conversation and actually stimulates it, whether it's coverage of a serious topic or a total guilty pleasure.
Sports, Not so Bad
I know some of you are not sports fans, and you certainly shouldn't watch anything that you truly dislike. I'm pretty ambivalent about sports myself, but I've found that having a game on TV doesn't ruin my dinner. My boyfriend loves sports, so we might put on a baseball game and swap out the sound of the announcers for some music of our own choosing while we eat our dinner. It's really not a bad way to spend a summer evening. And, for me, a big game is just an excuse to invite friends over, cook a fun meal and enjoy each others' company.
These days, there are countless television shows that center around food. You can eat a meal while Food Network helps you plan your next one, or Top Chef inspires you to try a new ingredient. As Ina Garten would say, how bad could that be?
The Right Food for the Job
Some food calls for a more formal setting, but others are perfect for TV watching. I love to make a simple pasta dish, put it in an over-sized serving bowl, curl up in a corner of the couch, put on a TV show or movie and savor every bite. Popcorn, of course, is a no-brainer.
And Yes, Sometimes Just Turn it Off
As much as I love TV, I definitely don't need to have it on for every meal. Some meals – especially those that require a little extra effort – are better enjoyed with the TV off, and maybe some nice music instead. A dinner party, for instance, is not the time to eat a meal around the television (unless a special show, movie or game is the reason for the party). Or maybe just a nice, quiet weeknight meal, even if it's at the coffee table.
Disclaimer: I don't have children, and I realize that if you do, this is a completely different conversation. These are just the opinions of one adult who was almost never allowed to watch TV while she ate as a kid, and is still a little excited that she can.